I am a product of community college. I earned an associate of arts from East Central College in 2008.

I’m also a first generation college graduate and believe strongly in education of all types.

This past week, I was humbled and honored to have been recognized by the Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) with a news media award.

I was nominated by my alma mater and selected by the MCCA board of directors.

The awards ceremony was held during the 53rd annual convention and tradeshow at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Thursday evening, Nov. 2. My husband Gary and I traveled to Branson for the awards ceremony and dinner and returned home Friday.

The award is presented annually to members of the media “whose work promotes understanding and appreciation of community colleges’ mission, students, faculty, staff, and administrators, as well as the unique challenges and opportunities facing community colleges.”

When I first began my career with The Missourian in 2010, East Central College was one of my beats. I attended meetings, wrote articles and visited the campus on and off for years, covering everything from the mundane to budgets, building projects and more. There’s always something inspiring happening at the college. In fact, its a community all of it’s own.

But the reason I’m so humbled to have received this award is because I was just doing my job.

I came to love covering the college and, to be completely honest, I was sad when I had to give it up because of meeting conflicts.

The Missourian is lucky. It’s not often that there’s a community filled with people who want to help the news media, who call when they have something happening and who are willing to speak even in less than perfect circumstances — because not all news is good news.

And it’s even less often that the media is recognized for doing good work. The college is a priority at The Missourian, and I see it as a group award, because it’s the newspaper’s dedication to providing coverage for all aspects of our community that makes it all possible.

Even more humbling is that this was the only news media award presented at the convention, which just shows the value that the college places on fair and accurate news coverage.

So, even if my impromptu speech last Thursday night wasn’t as polished as I would have liked, I want to thank MCCA, the East Central College board of trustees, foundation, faculty and staff, and The Missourian for this award. I also want to thank my family, as news sometime demands a lot of time outside of the normal work hours.

I often tell people that attending a junior college before moving on to Webster University was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made, and I believe that. I was able to use the incredibly valuable A+ scholarship. I had the opportunity to explore different fields, meet new people and make connections.

It was through a partnership between ECC and Webster, along with several generous scholarships I earned while attending ECC, that even made Webster University a possibility.

I was able to graduate with less than half the debt of most of my friends and up to 20 times less debt than other close friends. And for that, I’m extra thankful.

Awards

Speaking of awards, attending the MCCA convention meant I also had to miss the Union Area Chamber of Commerce’s Evening of Excellence banquet.

I wanted to take a moment to congratulate the top-notch businesses and nonprofit organizations honored Thursday night: Badge of Hope Ministries, the Union School District, Fricks Market and the disabled veterans memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.

I have worked with each group in some capacity and know that they truly make Union a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Congratulations to all and thank you for your service to the community!